Harissa | A Cookbook Collection

I have already blogged this recipe as part of one of my first blog posts Harissa Chicken Ciabatta, but I’ve decided that it needs to be it’s own post as I use it so much. So apologies if I’m boring anyone by repeating myself! I recently bought Sabrina Ghayour’s Persiana and I just love it! Every recipe appeals to me which is quite unusual. She uses plenty of harissa in her cooking so I think I’m going to be linking back to this post a lot. 

Harissa is a North African hot chilli sauce or paste with a lovely smoky flavour which can be used in many ways. It can be used as a marinade or rub on meat, fish, cheese and veg. I used to buy it but at one stage my supermarket stopped stocking it so I started making this recipe that I adapted from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem. A little goes a long way as it is quite powerful but you can make up a jar of the harissa in advance and store in the fridge. If you don’t have caraway seeds, leave them out and use a full teaspoon of cumin seeds instead.

See alternate recipes from Yotam Ottoenghi here and Nargisse Benkabbou on her site My Moroccan Food.

This recipe makes about 300ml.



  • 1 jarred red pepper
  • ½ tsp coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp caraway seeds
  • 1½ tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small red onion roughly chopped (approx. 90g in total)
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 3 red chillies, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • ½ tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Pinch of smoked paprika

Harissa paste


  • Place a dry frying pan on a low heat and lightly toast the coriander, cumin and caraway seeds for about 2 mins. You will get a gorgeous smell from the pan when they are toasted.
  • Transfer to a pestle and mortar and grind to a powder.
  • Heat the olive oil in the frying pan and fry the onion, garlic and chillies on a medium heat. Cook to a dark smoky colour until they are almost caramelised. That can take 10-15 mins depending on the size you have cut them.
  • Use a hand blender, liquidizer or a food processor and blitz all of the ingredients until you have a smooth paste. Add a little more oil if needed.
  • Store in a sterilized* jar in the fridge. It will keep for at least 2 weeks.


* To sterilize a jar just run it through the dishwasher or wash with warm soapy water and dry it out in a low oven. Make sure not to put your fingers inside the jar once it has been sterilized.


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